In The Wild, April 2010

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The Mojave desert is the site of nearly continuous military aircraft operations. The R-2508 Restricted Airspace Complex stretches from Bishop to Edwards Air Force Base and from Tehachapi to the Nevada State line. Approximately 18,000 low level test and training missions are conducted within the R-2508 Complex annually.

Under the R-2508 Complex, the Saline Valley, adjacent to Death Valley, is used by military aircraft to transit between China Lake NAWC, Edwards AFB, and test ranges in Nevada. Aircraft from Fresno ANG Station and Lemoore NAS aircraft use the area for training.

I camped out in the Saline Valley photographing airplanes in the wild in April. Camp was buzzed by several F/A-18 Hornets including one destined for delivery to the Australian Air Force. Two Boeing 747 testbeds flew overhead and three Cessnas paid a visit to the Chicken Strip.

Tuesday, April 6

Boeing F/A-18 Hornet 11:10 AM: A Boeing F/A-18 Hornet, probably from Naval Air Station Lemoore, buzzed me as I continued my descent.

Boeing F/A-18 Hornet 11:41 AM: A Hornet cruised up the valley at low altitude.

Boeing F/A-18 Hornet

Boeing F/A-18 Hornet

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 11:43 AM: A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 cruised high over the valley.

Wednesday, April 7

Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 Hornet 11:54 AM: A Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 Hornet.

Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 Hornet Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 Hornet

Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 Hornet 12:29 PM: Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 Hornet

Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 Hornet 2:19 PM: Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 Hornet

Australian Air Force Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet 2:22 PM: Australian Air Force Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #201 is temprarily assigned to Naval Air Station Lemoore. It will be delivered to Australia in the near future.

Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #446 of VFA-125 Rough Raiders 2:25 PM: Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #446 of VFA-125 Rough Raiders based at NAS Lemoore.

Art Prints You can buy framed prints and greeting cards of this photo.

Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #446 of VFA-125 Rough Raiders F/A-18F #446 of VFA-125.

Raven 2:29 PM: Ravens are the most common flyers in the area.

Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet of VFA-125 Rough Raiders 3:07 PM: F/A-18F of VFA-125.

Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #221 of VX-31 Dust Devils 3:15 PM: Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #221 of VX-31 Dust Devils based at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.

Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #221 of VX-31 Dust Devils F/A-18F #221 of VX-31

Friday, April 9

NASA Boeing 747SP N747NA Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy 9:58 AM: NASA Boeing 747SP N747NA Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy (SOFIA) flew a racetrack pattern with an F-16 Fighting Falcon chase plane. This 747SP-21 carries Boeing construction number 21441. It made its first flight on Apriul 25, 1977. It was delivered to Pan Am as N536PA on May 6, 1977. Pan Am named it Clipper Lindbergh. United Airlines bought it on February 13, 1986. United changed its registration to N145UA on November 1, 1986. It made its last revenue flight, and the last scheduled revenue flight of a 747SP in the United States, on October 17, 1994. It was withdrawn from use and parked at Oakland on October 18, 1994. It was ferried to Las Vegas on or before November 1, 1995. NASA bought it on January 1, 1997. It was ferried to San Francisco on February 17, 1997 and repainted with new titles identifying it as SOFIA on February 20. It entered a hangar at Waco, Texas for paint stripping and maintenance on May 1, 1999. The registration N747NA was reserved for it on December 17, 2004. It made its first flight after modification on April 26, 2007. After a series of local flights in the vicinity of Waco, it was ferried to its new home at the Dryden Flight Research Center.

NASA Boeing 747SP N747NA Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy SOFIA, a Boeing 747SP modified to carry a 2.5 meter diameter infra-red telescope, arrived at Edwards Air Force Base early in the afternoon on May 31, 2007. It will conduct infra-red astronomical observations above most of the water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere.

NASA Boeing 747SP N747NA Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy SOFIA with F-16

Cessna 150C N2068Z 10:09 AM: Cessna 150C N2068Z landed at the Chicken Strip.

NASA Boeing 747SP N747NA Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy 10:26 AM: SOFIA with F-16

NASA Boeing 747SP N747NA Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy SOFIA with F-16

NASA Boeing 747SP N747NA Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy SOFIA

NASA Boeing 747SP N747NA Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy 10:56 AM: SOFIA with F-16

NASA Boeing 747SP N747NA Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy SOFIA

Cessna A185F N53059 11:21 AM: Cessna A185F N53059 landed at the Chicken Strip.

NASA Boeing 747SP N747NA Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy 11:24 AM: SOFIA with F-16

NASA Boeing 747SP N747NA Stratospheric Observatory for Infra-red Astronomy SOFIA

Australian Air Force Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #201 12:56 PM: Australian Air Force Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #201.

Art Prints You can buy framed prints and greeting cards of this photo.

Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #202 of VFA-122 Flying Eagles 1:08 PM: Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #202 of VFA-122 Flying Eagles based at NAS Lemoore.

Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #202 of VFA-122 Flying Eagles 1:16 PM: F/A-18F #202 of VFA-122

Art Prints You can buy framed prints and greeting cards of this photo.

Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18F Super Hornet #202 of VFA-122 Flying Eagles F/A-18F #202 of VFA-122

General Electric Boeing 747-121 N747GE 1:26 PM: General Electric Boeing 747-121 N747GE carries a test engine on the left inboard position. For a number of years, General Electric has used a former Pan Am 747-121 as an engine testbed.

General Electric's 747-121 Engine Testbed carries construction number 19651 and was the 25th 747 off the production line. It first flew on March 3, 1970. It was delivered to Pan Am as N744PA Clipper Star of the Union on March 21, 1970. It was later rechristened Clipper Ocean Spray. Pan Am retired it on December 4, 1991.

General Electric leased it and registered it as N747GE on March 9, 1992. A variety of engines have been tested on its number-2 pylon, including the GE90-115 and the CF34. It was based at the Mojave Airport for several years before its operations were transferred to the Southern California Air Logistics Center at Victorville in 2002. It is the oldest 747 that is still flown.

McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18C Hornet #350 of VFA-122 Flying Eagles 1:43 PM: McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18C Hornet #350 of VFA-122 Flying Eagles

McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18C Hornet #350 of VFA-122 Flying Eagles F/A-18C #350 of VFA-122

Cessna 5:15 PM: A third Cessna lansded at the Chicken Strip.


More Saline Valley April 2010 Displays

Saline Valley April 2010 Page 1 Page 1: Driving into the valley

Saline Valley April 2010 Page 2 Page 2: Campout


More In the Wild Displays:

Military Jets in the Wild Link to the In the Wild index page for more pictures of jets in the desert.





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